Another COVID death reported on North Olympic Peninsula

Fourth death in Jefferson County; 15 total in two-county region

A fourth Jefferson County resident has died from COVID-19 after having been hospitalized for several weeks at a Seattle hospital.

A woman in her 60s, a cancer patient, died late last week at the University of Washington Medical Center after she was hospitalized with COVID-19 pneumonia, said Dr. Tom Locke, Jefferson County health officer.

The reporting of the death, confirmed to be caused by COVID-19, was delayed due to her having residences in other states, Locke said Thursday.

The woman was vaccinated but was not fully protected due to chemotherapy, Locke said. Her immune system had been suppressed by the cancer treatment, and she contracted the virus out of state shortly after she received her second shot, he added.

“A known problem with all vaccines is they don’t work very well in people who are immunosuppressed,” Locke said. “So, this appears to be a tragic example of that.

“It’s why we have to continue masking and other preventions until the pandemic is really over.”

The newest Jefferson County death brings the total due to COVID-19 on the North Olympic Peninsula to 15. Eleven were Clallam County residents.

Going into the Memorial Day weekend, both Locke and Dr. Allison Berry, Clallam County health officer, urge residents to use caution while gathering. They recommend staying outside if possible, and wearing masks and social distancing indoors if people are unvaccinated.

“I think our biggest hope going, when we look at the upcoming holiday weekend, is that people find ways to celebrate and gather safely,” Berry said. “The biggest thing we worry about is big indoor family gatherings.

“So whenever we hear about people going to a family reunion, we encourage those to be as outside as possible, as that will really keep everyone safer.”

If traveling, especially by plane, Berry urges residents — vaccinated or not — to wear a good mask, keep their distance from others and wash their hands often while traveling and in an airport.

Both health officers continue to urge residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible.

Those hesitant to do so are urged to talk with their health care provider or call their respective public health department to ask questions and raise concerns. They also encourage people to ask about the experiences of friends who have been vaccinated.

Jefferson County is conducting a pop-up clinic at Brinnon School District’s gym on Saturday using Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, as well as second doses of Moderna’s vaccine.

The clinic will run from 9 a.m. to noon, and while appointments are preferred, walk-ins for both vaccines will be accepted. Appointments can be made at https://tinyurl.com/PDN-BrinnonVax or by calling 360-344-9791.

Clallam County Public Health is conducting three pop-up clinics this weekend using Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Two are planned in downtown Port Angeles from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. today and Sunday at the visitors center and one from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the Sequim farmers market.

The full calendar for pop-up clinics in Clallam County can be viewed at https://tinyurl.com/PDN-ClallamPopUps.

The state has a vaccination locator at https://vaccinelocator.doh.wa.gov, which allows users to see where appointments are available and which vaccine will be used. While all state residents 12 and older are eligible to be vaccinated, anyone younger than 18 can receive only Pfizer’s vaccine.

Clallam County confirmed one new COVID-19 case on Thursday and has reported 107 cases so far this month, about 7.98 percent of the 1,341 cases reported since the pandemic began, according to county data.

A total of 26 cases have been confirmed so far this month in Jefferson County, about 6.25 percent of the 416 total cases confirmed in the past year, according to county public health data.

Eighteen COVID-19 cases were active as of Thursday in Clallam County, with two patients currently hospitalized and one in the intensive care unit. Jefferson County had three active cases Thursday.

Both counties are in the state’s moderate-risk category, with Clallam County having a case rate of 57 per 100,000 population for the past two weeks as of Thursday, while Jefferson County had a case rate of 28.21 per 100,000 for the two weeks prior as of Saturday.

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Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at [email protected]

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